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Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012
Hashimoto's overtures to Ishihara, other hawks continue
OSAKA — Negotiations between Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), Your Party and departing Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara regarding political cooperation in the next general election continued over the weekend, with Hashimoto formally entrusted by his camp to make the final decision.
However, while Hashimoto has said the direction of Ishihara's new party, which has yet to be formally launched, will probably run parallel to that of Nippon Ishin no Kai, many of his supporters oppose a formal tieup with Takeo Hiranuma's Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), which will likely be folded into Ishihara's new party.
While Tachiagare Nippon officials have expressed hope of an alliance, Nippon Ishin no Kai members worry about policy differences with Hiranuma in areas like participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement. Several Ishin no Kai members told The Japan Times they were also concerned about Hiranuma's party's ultraright foreign policy views, especially toward China.
Meanwhile, Nippon Ishin no Kai and Your Party moved closer to a formal tieup by announcing Friday evening they would prepare a joint policy agreement by the end of November. The two parties are also expected to work out a deal where Nippon Ishin no Kai does not field candidates in districts where Your Party plans to run, and vice versa.
Your Party has 14 Diet members, while Nippon Ishin no Kai has nine.
"Both parties have to make an effort to align themselves in areas like the consumption tax hike and participation in the TPP," said Your Party's Kenji Eda after the meeting.
But it remains to be seen what kind of postelection political cooperation might be possible between Your Party and Ishihara's new party. Your Party head Yoshimi Watanabe and Ishihara are not close, and any alliance would only come after intense negotiations, and with Nippon Ishin no Kai acting as go-between.
While there are no immediate plans for a Lower House election, and the next Upper House poll is set for next summer, when the current Lower House members' terms also expire, Nippon Ishin no Kai says it has already identified 155 possible candidates for the next Lower House poll.